The exciting adventure of Intensive Care Medicine Where did we begin, where are we now, where are we heading?
More details
Hide details
Professor of Critical Care Medicine, Democritus University of Thrace
Pulmonologist/Intensivist, Department of Intensive Care Unit, University Hospital of Alexandroupolis
Corresponding author
Ioannis Pneumatikos   

Critical Care Medicine, Director of Intensive Care Unit, University Hospital of Alexandroupolis, Greece
Pneumon 2016;29(3):211-215
The origins of Intensive Care Medicine can be traced back to Copenhagen, Denmark in 1952 during a poliomyelitis epidemic. During the next 40 years, there was a remarkable advance in Intensive Care Medicine which led it to be widely established as a new medical specialty. Nowadays, Intensive Care Units (ICUs) are independent departments with advanced technological equipment that provide continuous monitoring and support of vital signs for all critically ill patients. There is a global trend for an increase in the number of ICU beds, while at the same time Intensive Care Units already carry a huge economic burden. At the beginning of the new millennium, Intensive Care Medicine has to face new challenges. There is a need for new therapeutic criteria and improvement of the quality of care for the rapidly eldering population of advanced countries and a growing need to address the moral dilemmas regarding end-of-life decisions.
Lassen HC. A preliminary report on the 1952 epidemic of poliomyelitis in Copenhagen with special reference to the treatment of acute respiratory insufficiency. Lancet 1953;1:37–41.
Severinghaus JW, Astrup P, Murray JF. Blood gas analysis and critical care medicine. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 1998;157(4 Pt 2):S114-22.
Tang W, Sun S. Max Harry (Hal) Weil – a leader, mentor, friend, and wonderful colleague. Resuscitation 2011;82:1481–2.
Ashbaugh DG, Bigelow DB, Petty TL, Levine BE. Acute Respiratory distress in adults. Lancet 1967; 2:319-323.
Knaus WA, Draper EA, Wagner DP, Zimmerman JE. APACHE II: a severity of disease classification system. Crit Care Med 1985;13:818–29.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Network: Ventilation with lower tidal volumes as compared with traditional tidal volumes for acute lung injury and the acute respiratory distress syndrome. N Engl J Med 2000;342:1301-8.
Wheeler AP, Bernard GR, Thompson BT et al. Pulmonary-artery versus central venous catheter to guide treatment of acute lung injury. N Engl J Med 2006;354:2213-24.
Hebert PC, Wells G, Blajchman MA et al. A multicenter, randomized, controlled clinical trial of transfusion requirements in critical care. Transfusion Requirements in Critical Care Investigators, Canadian Critical Care Trials Group. N Engl J Med 1999;340:409-17.
Girard TD, Kress JP, Fuchs BD et al. Efficacy and safety of a paired sedation and ventilator weaning protocol for mechanically ventilated patients in intensive care (Awakening and Breathing Controlled trial): a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 2008;371:126-34.
Dellinger RP, Levy MM, Carlet JM, et al. Surviving Sepsis Campaign: international guidelines for management of severe sepsis and septic shock. Crit Care Med 2008;36:296-327.
Heyland DK, Dhaliwal R, Drover JW, Gramlich L, Dodek P. Canadian clinical practice guidelines for nutrition support in mechanically ventilated, critically ill adult patients. J Parenter Enteral Nutr 2003;27:355-73.
Napolitano LM, Kurek S, Luchette FA, et al. Clinical practice guideline: red blood cell transfusion in adult trauma and critical care. Crit Care Med 2009;37:3124-57.
Thompson DR, Hamilton DK, Cadenhead CD, et al. Guidelines for intensive care unit design. Crit Care Med 2012;40:1586-600.
Halpern NA. Innovative designs for the smart ICU: Part 2: The ICU. Chest 2014;145:646-58.
Centofanti JE, Duan EH, Hoad NC, et al. Use of a daily goals checklist for morning ICU rounds: a mixed methods study. Crit Care Med 2014; 42:1797-803.
Rello J, Lode H, Cornaglia G, Masterton R. VAP Care Bundle Contributors; A European care bundle for prevention of ventilator associated pneumonia. Intensive Care Med 2010;36:773-80.
Gallesio AO. Improving quality and safety in the ICU: a challenge for the next years. Curr Opin Crit Care 2008;14:700-7.
Najjar-Pellet J, Jonquet O, Jambou P, Fabry J. Quality assessment in intensive care units: proposal for a scoring system in terms of structure and process. Intensive Care Med 2008;34:278-85.
Sprung CL, Truog RD, Curtis JR et al. Seeking worldwide professional consensus on the principles of end-of-life care for the critically ill. The Consensus for Worldwide End-of-Life Practice for Patients in Intensive Care Units (WELPICUS) study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2014;190:855-66.
Vincent JL Critical Care-where have we been and where are we going? Critical Care 2013; 17(suppl1):S2.
Wallace DJ, Angus DC, Seymour CW, Barnato AE, Kahn JM. Critical care bed growth in the United States: a comparison of regional and national trends. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2015;191:410-6.
Αngus DC, Truong RD. Toward better ICU use at the end of life. JAMA 2016; 315:255-6.
Halpern NA, Pastores SM. Critical care medicine in the United States 2000-2005: an analysis of bed numbers, occupancy rates, payer mix, and costs. Crit Care Med 2010; 38:65-71.
Kanhere MH, Kanhere HA, Cameron A, Maddern GJ. Does patient volume affect clinical outcomes in adult intensive care units? Intens Care Med 2012; 38:741–51.
Krell K. Critical care workforce. Crit Care Med 2008, 36:1350-3.
Hillman KM, Magnollia Cardona Morell. The ten barriers to appropriate management of patients at the end of their life. Intensive Care Med 2015; 41:1700–2.
Anderson ID, Eddleston J, Grocott M et al. The Higher Risk General Surgical Patient: towards improved care for a forgotten group — Royal College of Surgeons [Internet]. Available from:
NCEPOD - Peri-operative Care: Knowing the Risk Report (2011). Available from:
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top